The top 10 coffee shops without WiFi in Toronto
The top coffee shops without WiFi in Toronto are part of an increasingly rare category. Coffee shops have become extended offices for freelancers and workaholics; places to get wired and wired up. Thankfully, there are a few (and great) options that stay relatively laptop zombie-free, for those who want to have their coffee sans internet. Coffee, chatter, newspapers and books circulate with a kind of freedom: seats open faster, people relax. The energy doesn't just move between plug and computer, but all around - a café experience with less distraction and more potential interaction.
Here's my list of the top coffee shops without WiFi in Toronto.
Sam James does his best to keep the focus on coffee and conversation by getting rid of the assumption that a great coffee shop has to have office-like tables and free WiFi. He's proved you can have a booming business with perches, open space and benches that let people stop, chat, sip, reflect, and move on. Maybe that's why the coffee he serves and roasts is called Cut Coffee; he wants to cut out the BS.
A WiFi-less café experience is at the heart of Manic Coffee. It's a warm and inviting space, and the coffee is fantastic. Sure, there are people working on occasion - but they are also talking, reading books, and engaging in the world around them.
Maybe it's the overarching chill vibe of Kensington Market (certainly, there are more WiFi-free cafés concentrated in that neighbourhood than elsewhere in Toronto), but it doesn't seem like Moonbean even considered getting WiFi - they were too busy microroasting great beans and providing a relaxing atmosphere.
Bulldog's Stuart Ross has always done things his way. One of those things is no WiFi at his respectable and long-standing café - even though it's just blocks from Ryerson, and serves as a real beacon for the student neighbourhood. Perhaps they, too, are sick of feeling pressure to make every café stop into a work opportunity, and just want to sit back and relax. Ross lets his customers do just that.
Conversation abounds at Broadview Espresso, where owners have chosen to keep it unplugged. The variety of cozy seating inside, and the warm-weather patio seating outside, add to the relaxed feel that pervades the place.
Newcomer Wallace Espresso set out to be the Junction Triangle's favourite neighbourhood drop-in coffee joint, and it's achieved just that. There's limited seating, but the owner/baristas are kind and chatty and make great coffee, so you'll find little opposition to lingering, sipping and sharing thoughts.
(Louie's) Casa Acoreana
Paris has Café de Flore, we have Casa Acoreana: Both are great, famous cafés on corner lots, perfect for people-watching and full of colourful characters. The difference? The French have booze and perfect omelettes; we get fine coffee and candy. (Neither has WiFi.)
Yorkville Espresso Bar
Yorkville Espresso Bar's proximity to the Toronto Reference library may be the reason the shop doesn't bother with WiFi. It's free and easy over there, but at the coffee shop you can drink a coffee while reading, and you also won't get shushed if a conversation gets amped up.
Don't you think the name speaks volumes? Its environment speaks volumes too - lounging chairs, an impressive selection of vinyl available to buy or listen to (mostly jazz and blues), and good coffee. All that chillaxing, and no WiFi.
Roncesvalles family favourite Cherry Bomb has been WiFi free since its inception, and for good reason - the staff don't have the room for laptoppers occupying the prime real estate, or the time to dole out passwords and electricity when they're busy filling coffee orders and baking up the best croissants.
What did I miss? Add your favourite WiFi-free cafes to the comments below.
Photo by Jesse Milns